Ever since Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to the Star Wars franchise, rumors have swirled about the next three films in the saga. Fans wondered what part of the Expanded Universe (EU) the film would focus on, and whether old favorites from past episodes would show up in the new films, or whether new people would be cast. Many longtime fans thought it would be sacrilege to replace the actors who played such iconic roles, but there is a good chance that Disney won’t be recasting any roles. If, as persistent rumors say, the film takes place thirty or more years after “Return of the Jedi,” then the same actors can come back and bring new life into their characters.
Mark Hamill, who played lead character Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” has said that he has been in contact with Lucasfilm representatives about possibly being in “Star Wars: Episode VII,” but he wouldn’t say anything beyond that. Fans had to wonder if he would be playing an older version of Luke or if he would be playing an entirely different character. Since Luke was the last Jedi left in the galaxy at the end of “Return of the Jedi,” it would be difficult to dismiss his character if the new film does indeed take place thirty years later. Over those thirty years, Luke would have tried to rebuild the Jedi forces, most likely starting with his twin sister, Leia.
Carrie Fisher has stated in an interview that she has heard rumors of her possible return as Leia, but Disney has remained mum. Should she come back, she would most likely be Leia Solo since in the EU books she marries Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and has children with him, including a set of twins. Of course, one of the myriad of rumors regarding “Star Wars: Episode VII” is that the plot of the film will be a completely original story, and not based on any storylines in the EU. If this is correct, then Leia and Han Solo may not be in the film.
Ford has said he is open to returning to the part that initially made him famous in interviews, leaving the door open for him to return as Han. Whether his Han will still be a space pirate flying the Millenium Falcon remains to be seen though. He could have a very different job in the new story, and he could also have a new sidekick. Though Peter Mayhew, the actor inside the Chewbacca suit, is still very much alive, a quick glance through some movie gossip websites for “Star Wars: Episode VII” doesn’t show him as a rumored returning cast member. This could just be an oversight, or it could be a hint that Chewbacca won’t be returning.
Speaking of non-human roles, Antony Daniels is also rumored to be in the film. Longtime fans recognize Daniels as the voice of C-3PO, the gold-hued protocol droid that spoke millions of languages and could compute complex mathematical problems in his head in a matter of seconds. He had a very nervous and fussy personality, which was in direct contrast to his droid friend R2-D2. R2-D2, or “Artoo” as he is sometimes referred to in the EU, was played by Kenny Baker, who like Mayhew is alive and kicking, but he isn’t listed as a potential actor for the film. Of course, with technology being as advanced as it is today, there is a chance that both characters will return in CGI form. They could also both come back for Episode VII and just haven’t agreed to a contract just yet.
The final actor likely to return for the film is Billy Dee Williams, who played reformed scoundrel Lando Calrissian in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” Until a better idea of the plot of the film emerges, it is impossible to know how big Williams’ role will be, but since Lando is a fan favorite, there is a good chance it will be more than just a short cameo.
With the film set to begin shooting in England in early 2014, there is still plenty of time for Disney, director J.J. Abrams, and screenwriter Michael Arndt to change course. They could be plotting to bring these five actors back, or recast their parts. Either way, “Star Wars: Episode VII” will be the most anticipated film of 2015 no matter who is in the cast.